How Struggle Sharpens Your Ability to Innovate

It has always been a source of immense amazement to me how every successful person on this planet has had a story filled with struggle, perseverance, and failure. Not one tall tale of success, have I ever encountered that was all about things being served in a platter to the guy and then someone holding his hands and walking him to success. Even the richest of businessmen are making their heirs attend the toughest of schools, have a life based on work and not to be easy going. This has got to mean something. As cumbersome and inconvenient as it may sound to you, I have to tell you that it is in fact one of the fundamental truths of life that struggle sharpens your ability to innovate, grow and then ultimately become a success.

I don’t think philosophies are much cared for, by the millennium generation in general, but here’s the deal- when it comes to inspiration, I think the ancient thought if decoded from its erudite abode has a lot to offer, the experience drenched philosophies that the societies are etched with and that we so conveniently ignore all sing about how struggle helps us discover new things and innovate. Ancient thought has always tended to appreciate the struggle. We ourselves try to ignore it, or when undergoing this strenuous state of mind try to hide it, are ashamed of it or worse feel sorry about it. The reality should be the exact opposite. A number of philosophies dictate how the struggle is an opportunity to grow, how failure is an opportunity to learn and as the following discussion progresses I we will all start having a deeper understanding and appreciation of struggle and finally agree with the ancient thought and start embracing the struggle and not avoiding it.

Human history is filled with innovation and one of the major inspirations behind these innovations has always been- struggle. The struggle of a man trying to reach from one place to another led to the formation of the wheel, the struggle of men facing innumerable diseases led to the discovery of an entirely new branch of science- medicine. Similarly, the struggle of managing data, of getting work done quicker all these led to in the past and still lead to the innovations in computer technologies and software. The idea is to recognize that struggle and draw inspiration from it. Struggle provides us with empathy which in turn provides us incentive to work harder, think harder, reach our maximum potential in whatever we are doing. Millions of inventions have only sprung out of the minds like that of Edison and Tesla because they recognized theirs as well as the struggle of those around them.

Another gift this thorny package provides you is humility. The more intelligent you are, the more likely you are to be overconfident and then ultimately commit blunders. But if you are struggling to let’s say create a particular piece of software, you will first, of course, try and execute your idea in one go, it didn’t go as planned. You try again and again, first checking if the process, the system is properly aligned, it still does not work. Then you will start taking a closer look at your idea, at the various sets of codes you had written to execute it, you keep looking and looking and almost every single time you come across a point where you realize- you could have done better or that merely there was an easier way to get the same things done. You solve these snags and behold- you have your software, ready to use and better than ever. Now, let’s take a step back. Just think of the said software would have been a success in the first go, would you have any incentive to look closely at all its components yet again? I didn’t think so. It was the mere fact that you struggled to run the software that you gave value and thought to its each and every component and in turn, created a much better thing out of them. This inside innovation would never have been possible if you hadn’t struggled in the first place. Thus, struggle gives you a whole new experience, a new window to look at the same thing and I think that is all that an intelligent mind needs for inspiration to innovate.

Lastly, I think struggle also gives you much more knowledge and experience than anything ever could. Reading books or knowing about how things are done is one thing, but when you actually sit down and start working on those “things” yourself, you start appreciating its every aspect, you start realizing its flaws and shortcomings, something which you need to experience first-hand to fully understand and once you do that you finally have both the opportunity and the knowledge to solve these problems, to develop new solutions to finally innovate.

Thus, it is important for all of us, especially those who have set out on a journey to discover and create something new to understand that there is no avoiding struggle. Instead of taking shortcuts or being let down by the struggle we have to start looking at it as it is- a golden opportunity, a teacher that is there to teach you of millions of things that nobody else has ever even mentioned to you. So it is time now for us to start embracing this incredible opportunity sugar-coated inside with the word- struggle!

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